Lang Lang

For every musical prodigy there's a horde of rabid critics eager to decry and defame. This is certainly true for Chinese piano virtuoso Lang Lang. His was a troubled career from the start. At nine years old, after winning contests and playing highly regarded public recitals, Lang Lang was invited to audition for a spot in Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. However, he was quickly dismissed by his tutor for lack of talent, although he was eventually accepted to the program a few years later.

Fast-forward to today, and the 25-year-old Lang Lang is still the subject of hot critical dispute. While some praise his expressive, bombastic style, others deem him a piano-pounding child and cite his bravado as immaturity and lack of sensitivity to the subject matter. Regardless, all can agree Lang's performances have an air of spectacle, with the pianist frequently channeling Jerry Lee Lewis's physical animation at the bench.

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